Solopreneur success is a hot topic online – especially these days when the number of solopreneurs is burgeoning. It pays to listen to the advice and tips that savvy solopreneurs can give us. Those who are in the game will have practical and actionable ideas to offer. Note all the inspirations and opinions in this roundup. Then see how you can apply some of them in your business. The descriptions of solopreneur success here are important because they give us insights into how solopreneurs see success.
- Financial independence begins by understanding your vision and setting rules
- You have to be extraordinarily patient if you want to be impatient
- Embrace the worst case scenario, and you’ll see that it’s not that bad
- If you’re going to stay the course, you must have rock-solid self-belief
- You’ll have to work hard to build skills that don’t come naturally
- Break out of your work routine often to take advantage of your local community
- Better to be frugal and maximize your revenues and profits, now and always
- Being a solopreneur is filled with challenges but you just can’t give up
- Use the advantage of your unique personality to build your personal brand
- Don’t be tempted to fly by the seat of your pants – set clear goals
- Learn to get help when needed – and learn to say “no” when needed
- Integrate your family with your work life as a solopreneur – double joy
- Forget about competition and money – get selling skills, quality clients
- Be ready to reinvent yourself a few times on the way to big success
- There should always be a “why” behind the things you do as a solopreneur
- You’re the C.E.O. of you – look around you but trust your own instincts
- Safeguard the money you have and maximize your time to make more money
- Remember: it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it
VIDEO: Philip VanDusen offers a thought-provoking contrarian view about “The Myth of the Solopreneur” (Must watch: 8:37 minutes)
Philip VanDusen says there is nothing truly “solo” about being a solopreneur because no one really manages business single-handedly. It takes many others to make a business hum with health – whether you have hired those extra hands as outsource workers or vendors. Even your customers contribute to your success. No single person can take all the credit for the growth of any business. See if you agree with Philip’s point of view.
1. Financial independence begins by understanding your vision and setting rules
Marla Tabaka in the article “The 5 Rules of Solopreneur Success”:
“Do you believe that you have to limit your company’s growth because you’re a solo entrepreneur? ‘Solo’ doesn’t necessarily mean small but sometimes we forget to think big. Solopreneurs don’t always consider the long-term plan, including things like outsourcing and developing products. If we think small we feel small, and are more likely to stay small -it’s as simple as that. Today I would like to encourage you to stretch your brilliant, creative mind to see your world as you want it to be in 3 years from now.
Begin by asking yourself these questions: In three years from now ,,,
- How many hours a day/week/month will I work?
- How will my cash flow have changed?
- What is/are my primary revenue stream?
- In what ways will my business have grown?
If you see your days, cash flow and business much in the same way as you see it today, ask yourself, ‘Is that how I really want things to be?’
If you’re content and meeting your goals, that’s fabulous. But if you want additional growth, freedom, and financial independence begin by creating rules for your business – and understand your vision.”
2. You have to be extraordinarily patient if you want to be impatient
Seth Godin in the article “Seth Godin on Succeeding as a Solopreneur”:
“I guess where I would begin is you actually have to be extraordinarily patient if you want to be impatient. And that’s how we understand what the two words mean.
What it means to be patient is to find the shortest direct path from here to there while avoiding mindless shortcuts, because the shortcuts aren’t really shortcuts. And impatient because you’re not going to shy away from the things that scare you, because you care so much about getting where you’re going.
So I patiently started building an email newsletter in 1992, which was 25 years ago. It stopped being an email newsletter sometime in the late ‘90s and started being what might be a blog. The thing about that journey is I have never once had a viral homerun, not once have I had something that was the most popular blank of its kind.
But in general, there are people who have had blog posts that have been seen 10 times as many times as mine, 100 times as many. Videos that have been seen 50 times as many. That’s fine, because I’m in the singles business. Showing up day after day is the way it’s been done.”
3. Embrace the worst case scenario, and you’ll see that it’s not that bad
Nate Nead in the article “The Rise of the Solopreneur (And 4 Tips for Success)”:
“Life as a solopreneur can feel lonely, isolating, and difficult at times. You carry all of the burden and there’s nobody to ease the relief. There are only so many hours in the day and you can’t always get everything done.
Life as a solopreneur is also highly rewarding. You’re building something on your own – something you can feel good about. Plus, with no other employees or stakeholders, all of the profits are yours. This makes it lucrative and sustainable.
As you swing back and forth between the good side of solopreneurship and the tough side, it’s easy to get scared. And instead of focusing on what you should be doing, you worry about what could go wrong. Many will tell you to squash these thoughts, but that might not be the best advice.
Instead, embrace it. Let your mind wander to the worst case scenario, and you’ll realize that it’s not all that bad. If you fail, is it the end of the world? No. You’ll simply have to reroute and adjust.”
4. If you’re going to stay the course, you must have rock-solid self-belief
Kayleigh Alexandra in the article “7 Tips for Solopreneur Success”:
“Idealism aside, though, the markets don’t generally reward courage or commendable resolve. They reward broad, consistent, professional effort — something that’s exceptionally challenging for solopreneurs to achieve. Given that building a business isn’t easy for talented teams, it’s hardly surprising that it’s such a daunting task for just one person.
Does that make solopreneurs naive fools? Are they assuredly doomed? In a word, no: a solopreneur can achieve great things. It’s merely harder and requires different ingredients than those needed for regular business success.
Business is never forgiving. It’ll knock you down over and over again, persistently finding fresh ways to dent your ego and make you doubt your prospects. When you’re working as part of a team, you at least get to derive some comfort from not being alone in feeling uncertain, and (most importantly) share the burden of getting results.
If you’re going to stay the course, you must have rock-solid self-belief, the fierce level of determination demonstrated by all great achievers, and the ability to deal with rejection and keep moving. Do everything you can to maintain your motivation, whether it’s having a daily motivational quote or reminding yourself of where you started. It’s a tough task, yes, but anyone who said that the solopreneur life would be easy was trying to sell you something.”
5. You’ll have to work hard to build skills that don’t come naturally
Annie Pilon in the article “21 Rules for Solopreneurs to Live By”:
“Most solopreneurs start a business because of an existing skill set. You might have a talent for creating art or providing Web design services. But to be a successful solopreneur, you also have to know things like marketing, accounting and more. You’ll have to work hard to build those skills that don’t come naturally.
There are, however, plenty of tools that can help with the parts of running a business that don’t deal with your specific talents. Use online or desktop tools to manage things like taxes and scheduling rather than doing everything manually.
Automation can also help you save time and sanity when working by yourself. You can automate things like invoicing, sorting emails, and sending out marketing communications with a variety of different tools.
Being a solopreneur means being the sole person in charge of all aspects of your business. It’s impossible to go into a new venture as an expert in everything. So you’ll have to be open and willing to learn about new business aspects as you go.”
6. Break out of your work routine often to take advantage of your local community
Brian Martucci in the article “10 Success Tips for New Solopreneurs & Independent Entrepreneurs”:
Independent professionals tend to have more flexible schedules than their office-bound, employer-tied peers. Then again, the independent life can be quite lonely, even if you spend lots of your time in coffee shops or other public places.
To stay focused, keep your energy up, and interact with your fellow citizens outside the confines of the worker-client relationship, break out of your work routine from time to time and take advantage of the amenities near your home or office. Maybe that means treating yourself to lunch at a food truck or neighborhood restaurant, heading to the park for a jog, or sitting for a spell at the edge of the closest body of water.
You don’t have to enjoy your local amenities alone, of course. When we moved , my wife and I both immediately embraced our local incredible wealth of amenities and cultural opportunities: dozens of miles of mountain biking and Nordic skiing trails accessible without getting into a car, miles of rugged and virtually uninhabited coastline, a vibrant local food movement, and an incredibly rich homebrewing culture that produced two of the best breweries we’ve ever been to.
Though they didn’t directly earn me new clients or income, taking advantage of these amenities and opportunities dramatically improved my quality of life and professional productivity, and indirectly improved my relationship with my wife as well. Whenever I felt my motivation slipping, it was great to be able to get out of the house and into the woods or down to the lake. No matter where you live, surely you can find a favorite place or two to recharge.”
7. Better to be frugal and maximize your revenues and profits, now and always
Randall Hansen in the article “15 Quick Tips for Succeeding as a Solopreneur”:
“Understanding the need you fulfill with your services — and how to best exploit that need — is crucial for your long-term business success. Even if your business is up and running, it’s never too late to develop a business plan that focuses not only on today and this year, but develops a path for its growth over the next 3-5 years.
It’s tempting to go out and buy lots of new office equipment and supplies when you start a business, but the reality is that you don’t need a lot of it in the beginning — and may never need some of it. Better to be frugal and maximize your revenues and profits.
If you can run your business from your home, you must have a dedicated space for it. Setting up an office (in a spare bedroom, basement, enclosed porch, etc.) helps keep household and business separate — in terms of time and use, expenses, and even taxes.
Unless you start the business while still employed, it will take some time to build a client base and revenue stream. Ideally, start with several months of savings to help bridge the gap until your business is up and running. (Even after the business is established, keep an emergency fund to cover expenses if you lose one or more clients.)”
8. Being a solopreneur is filled with challenges but you just can’t give up
Kristen McCormick in the article “10 Tips for Being a Successful Solopreneur”:
“Do you have what it takes to be a solopreneur? The resounding answer should be yes. How can we say this without knowing you, personally? Because confidence is the number one foundational building block of every successful solopreneur. When you have confidence in what you’re doing, your approach to everything involved is one that facilitates success. Also, confidence begets confidence. When you have confidence in your business, your friends, family, clients, and investors will have confidence too.
Making the leap and pursuing your dreams requires a lot of unknowns: not knowing whether you’ll be successful, whether your idea is going to resonate with consumers, what steps you’ll need to take, and the list goes on. When presented with uncertainty, the human imagination tends to plunge into a sea of “what ifs” and worst case scenarios, creating a fear that can paralyze progress. You can’t stop your imagination from doing what it does. Nor should you. After all, an active imagination is often a key trait of solopreneurs.
Being a solopreneur is going to be filled with challenges. If things are not going as well as you’d like or you’re having bad luck across the board, don’t let that discourage you or tempt you to give up. Truly successful solopreneurs know to power through the bad times and believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The journey of a solopreneur is filled with adversity and unexpected events. What separates a successful solopreneur from an unsuccessful one is how you handle those events and the action you take as a result of them.
Even if you find that your business idea and model are working, you must always be looking for new growth and learning opportunities. Developing this kind of mindset is key for overcoming the natural comfort that comes with success. Remember, success is not final.”
9. Use the advantage of your unique personality to build your personal brand
Kayla Brown in the article “How To Succeed As A Solopreneur”:
“Your brand is a whole lot more than just your logo. In fact, your brand can be one of the central building blocks in creating a successful business. That’s because not only is your brand a visual manifestation of who you are and what you have to offer, but it has the potential to create a lasting first impression with your target audience.
Your mom was right — there’s no one else on earth quite like you. And as a solopreneur, you have the distinct advantage of using your unique personality and expertise to build your personal brand. Want to build one that really resonates? Pay special attention to the following aspects …
Every time a client ¸— either prospective or existing — engages with your brand, an experience is created. That’s why it’s important to be thoughtful and deliberate about the words and visuals that you use to represent your brand.
Words and pictures might seem like small potatoes when you’re a solopreneur with a to-do list a mile long, but when it comes to your brand, it’s very important to be mindful of the message you’re sending to your customers.”
10. Don’t be tempted to fly by the seat of your pants – set clear goals
Kate Hartley in the article “17 Tips To Be A Successful Solopreneur”:
“To be a successful solopreneur takes guts, patience, superb planning skills, dogged determination, flexibility and tenacious motivation. What’s more, to be a successful solopreneur you need to become adept at learning new skills virtually instantaneously as you fly somewhat by the seat of your pants.
Preparation is absolutely key to you becoming a successful solopreneur. Furthermore, without preparation, you risk wasting your energy on badly thought-out plans with no particular destination in mind.
What one goal, if you were to accomplish it this coming year, would have the greatest positive impact on your other goals and life? When you work out what that goal is, write it down, draw it, make a collage out of it, do whatever it takes to make it foremost in your mind.
When you set your goal, it will give you clarity as to where you are now, where you are going and what you need to do to get there. You will be in the driving seat heading towards your goal instead of randomly letting your business drift along without purpose. Ensure that every action you take henceforth is attributable to you achieving that goal. It’s important to get your goal right so that you know what you’re aiming for. Furthermore, you’ll know when you’ve got there”
11. Learn to get help when needed – and learn to say “no” when needed
Courtney Rosenfeld in the article “3 Top Tips for Solopreneur Success”:
“Oh yes, the life of a solopreneur can be a lonely one. But contrary to popular belief, you really don’t need to do everything by yourself. There’s no rule against outsourcing tasks that are not central to your business, and thankfully, it’s now easier to find talented people to work with over the internet.
Of course, the ease of finding freelancers also comes with its own perils. It’s a good idea, therefore, to peruse client references or even do a background check. For the latter, make sure you abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires that you let your potential employee know that you’re checking their background beforehand and that the results could affect the result of their application.
Money’s important, but it’s not an elixir for all entrepreneurial pains, sometimes, you just have to say no to people when you are busy. As a solo entrepreneur, you will be doing everything alone. You can’t allow every little request to be accepted because your time will be wasted a lot. Remind yourself that by saying no, you are actually saying yes—to the things that really deserve your time and attention, and to having the time for the right opportunities when they come along.
This doesn’t have to be done in a way that is rude or dismissive. Instead, it should be done politely. People will understand, but you have to be able to say no in the first place. It can take time to learn to be assertive and turn down requests, but you’ll get there in the end.”
12. Integrate your family with your work life as a solopreneur – double joy
Matt Crossman in the article “Solopreneur Lessons: What I Learned Taking My Daughters to Work”:
“I had been reluctant to take my girls on outdoors trips, especially work trips. I was worried my love of the wilderness would too far outpace theirs and that none of us would have fun. No more. In the years six since then, I have taken my two girls (14 and 11) on all manner of work/travel/adventure assignments. We’ve gone camping, skiing, stargazing, to a hot air balloon race, plus many more.
I take my daughters to work for many reasons. The primary one is fun. I consider it a great blessing that I get to combine work and family on excursions we all enjoy. I’ll keep doing it for as long as they’ll go with me. (Tick-tick goes the clock on that.)
I worked for my dad for four summers, and I got to know him in a different way when I saw him interact with people unrelated to his role as my father. I hope some of that happens for my daughters, too. I want them to hear me talk about something other than clean rooms, full dishwashers and bed times.
I hope they learn about the business world, too. I think they have. And in the process, I’ve learned at least as much as they have.”
13. Forget about competition and money – get selling skills, quality clients
Greetje den Holder in the article “Tips for Success for the Solopreneur”:
“The truth is everyone puts on their best face when they are in public but we have no idea what their world truly looks like. It is good to keep an eye on the competition but do it for positive reasons and strategic planning purposes. Focus on you, your plan, and your desires. They are the only things that count. Compare your progress to your plan and nothing else.
So many business owners minimize their success because they measure it only in terms of money. This lack of recognition can cause a ripple effect of demotivating thoughts and behaviors. As you meet your strategic milestones and tackle difficult hurdles, celebrate them!
One of the most critical elements of running a successful small business is possessing personal-selling skills. If you do not have them and do not want them, you need either to hire a salesperson or consider a different line of work. Pitching clients and making sales presentations are important to building your client base and your brand.
You might be tempted to accept any clients, especially in times when the business is struggling. In the end, it is best to work only with clients who respect and value your work, not only paying you what your time is worth, but also valuing the work you do for them.”
14. Be ready to reinvent yourself a few times on the way to big success
Kelsey Humphreys in the article “6 Tips to Be a Successful Solopreneur”:
“Jon Acuff is a New York Times bestselling author of five books and an in-demand speaker who has appeared on stage for clients such as Whirlpool, Microsoft and Comedy Central. He’s a social media influencer with more than 275,000 followers and his blog posts have been read by 4 million people.
How did he do it?
Well, if you’ve read his books, you’ve followed his story. He left his corporate job for his dream, started a business and reinvented himself a few times along the way.
Before going solo, Acuff worked his way up in an advertising career, eventually writing for brands such as The Home Depot, Staples and later landed his dream job, writing and speaking for the Dave Ramsey team. After taking the leap? He had his best financial year ever and books speaking gigs a year.”
15. There should always be a “why” behind the things you do as a solopreneur
Nathan Resnick in the article “8 Tips for the Work From Home Solopreneur”:
“There should always be a “why” behind the things you do — besides deciding to start your own independent gig. Did you start with hopes of replacing or supplementing your daily grind with something that springs you out of bed in the morning? Where did that passion come from?
Maybe you once told yourself to “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” That should feel just as true now, even when day-to-day entrepreneurship involves more mundane tasks than you originally thought.
Successful businesses achieve results through clearly-defined mission statements. Your army of one is no different. Write down your “why” and post it somewhere you will see daily.
If you got into your business with the goal of having more flexibility or free time, you might find the opposite true unless you insist on boundaries to ensure that you don’t undervalue the time you spend on your projects. You need “work time” to be time spent working so you can spend “you time” metaphorically frolicking through meadows and whistling with bluebirds.”
16. You’re the C.E.O. of you – look around you but trust your own instincts
Taughnee Stone in the article “15 Pieces of Advice for New and Aspiring Solopreneurs”:
“You’re the “C.E.O. of you.” Trust yourself that you know what’s best, and take advice with a grain of salt. You may make mistakes along the way, but that’s going to be your very best teacher. Everyone will have an opinion about what you should do, how you should change, or how you should do things differently. Your job as C.E.O. is to consider the advice and then make a decision about what to do with it.
If you’re waiting for permission, the right time, or to be perfect – chances are you’ll never launch your business or put yourself out there in a big way. While being prepared is imperative, no amount of preparedness will make you “feel ready”. At some point, you’re going to need to take that leap and trust yourself that you’ll figure things out along the way. Everything is figureoutable.
If you think there’s no place for you – that everybody knows more than you and they can do it so much better, welcome to the club. Every successful entrepreneur I know feels like an imposter from time to time, no matter how successful they become. Remember there are people out there who need your help and they don’t need you to be perfect. You are enough.
It’s helpful to look at your competitors and your business heroes to know what’s possible, but if you’re spending a great deal of your time comparing yourself to others, you’ll only stand in your own way. Your own personal goals are all that matter and they should guide you. Start with where you are and take a look at your own progress and pat yourself on the back along the way”
17. Safeguard the money you have and maximize your time to make more money
Jeanna Barrett in the article “6 Tips For Maximizing Your Budget As A Solopreneu”:
“As a solopreneur running my own marketing agency, I juggle many roles — administrative assistant, accountant, hiring manager, project manager, salesperson, website designer and more. Any of these roles can rob a solopreneur of time, and time is money when you’re the only person running your business and bringing in cash flow. Not to mention it takes some time as a solopreneur to build a steady income after leaving the safety of a regular paycheck.
Not only is it necessary to safeguard your cash flow when you start out as a solopreneur, but it’s important to maximize the time you have to make money. After my first year in business, I learned a ton about how to save time and money, so I could increase the profits of my solopreneur business.
As a solopreneur, you MUST automate processes and outsource tasks. In absence of others helping you do your work, look to platforms or other avenues to streamline critical business tasks to accomplish your needs. Yes, outsourcing tasks can get pricey, but there are plenty of avenues to find talent and it does not have to cost you your rent money.
Being a solopreneur allows you much more freedom than the classic 9-to-5 job, but you need to make sure you’re starting on the right foot. You’ll be saving time and money and improving your bottom line quickly.”
18. Remember: it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it
Jonny Quirk in the article “Top tips for being a successful solo entrepreneur”:
“Choosing to be a solo entrepreneur is an exciting decision and one which many people choose to take. Don’t buy into the old school way of thinking that you absolutely 100% need co-founders to get something off the ground. For every person’s pros, there are an equal number cons and vice versa.
Ultimately it’s all about addressing your own comfort around decision making, compromise, workload, and 100 other variables in running a business. There is no one size fits all model where you have to conform to a certain stereotype of being a solo entrepreneur and only you can figure out whether it’s right for you.
The longer you can make your limited budget last, the longer you’ll have to establish your business and grow that customer base. It’s no coincidence that so many startups crash and burn in the first couple of years, mainly due to being undercapitalised or not yet getting to break even.
Yes, there may be tough moments when you need to make big decisions yourself and work hours that socially may not conform to a set standard, however as the old saying goes “it’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.””
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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